Skip to comments.The Late, Great American WASP ('bout time somebody said it)
Posted on 12/23/2013 6:29:03 AM PST by GodAndCountryFirst
The U.S. once had an unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics and education, but they do so no longer. The WASPocracy, as I think of it, lost its confidence and, with it, the power and interest to lead. We are now without a ruling class, unless one includes the entity that has come to be known as the meritocracypresumably an aristocracy of sheer intelligence, men and women trained in the nation's most prestigious schools.
The acronym WASP derives, of course, from White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but as acronyms go, this one is more deficient than most. Lots of people, including powerful figures and some presidents, have been white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant but were far from being WASPs. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton qualified.
WASP life, though, was chiefly found on the eastern seaboard. WASPs had their own social clubs and did business with a small number of select investment and legal firms, such as Brown Brothers Harriman and Sullivan & Cromwell. Many lived on inherited money, soundly invested.
The late 1960s put the first serious dent into the WASPs as untitled aristocrats and national leaders. For protesters of that generation, the word WASP didn't come into play so much as the word Establishment, heretofore chiefly an ecclesiastical term. The Establishment was the protesters' enemy and target. The Establishment was thought to have sent the country into Vietnam; it was perfectly content with the status quo, with all its restrictions on freedom and tolerance for unjust social arrangements; it stood for all that was uptight and generally repressive in American culture.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Romney-Ryan was the first GOP ticket not to have a protestant.
But we have Kim and Kanye...
You must be a big fan of the Kennedys.
“but most societies need a ruling class of some kind — great families who represent its true ideals.”
Hate to tell you this, but that family would be THE BUSHES.
There were WASPs and there were WASPs.
Some of the characters listed: FDR, the Bush Klan, Rockefellers, etc. as well as others like Tom Kean Senior of NJ, Chrissie Whitman of New Jersey. exemplify everything that is WRONG with America today. And most of it comes from denying and rejecting their own heritage.
The WASP elite became big libs in the 60s - they caused their own death in many ways.
Thanks God, otherwise we might start looking like Detroit....oh wait
There is a great deal of mythology about WASPs. It is erroneous to equate this caste with hereditary European nobility. The US is a big melting pot. Power is fluid. One day you’re up. The next day you’re down. This is all a big myth.
This is a fairly good appraisal, but Epstein writes like an outsider looking in and doesn’t get it quite right.
You are absolutely correct when WASP began to stand for White Anglo Saxon Pagan and not Protestant, the decadence and decline became inevitable.
"the chief WASP qualities were "success depending on industry; use giving industry its task; civic-mindedness placing obligations on success, and antisensuality setting limits to the enjoyment of it; conscience watching over everything."
"Under WASP hegemony, corruption, scandal and incompetence in high places weren't, as now, regular features of public life. Under WASP rule, stability, solidity, gravity and a certain weight and aura of seriousness suffused public life. As a ruling class, today's new meritocracy has failed to provide the positive qualities that older generations of WASPs provided."
The author implies, but never specifically states, that what he really means by WASP is not "white Anglo-Saxon Protestant," but rather "northeast upper class."
The Rockefellers, Carnegies, Mellons, Roosevelts, Vanderbilts and a host of others were not Anglo-Saxon, yet were indisputably WASP.
Apparently it escaped Epstein that Texans are among the most WASPish of the WASPs.
"George W. Bush, even though he can claim impeccable WASP lineage and went to the right schools, seems otherwise to have shed all WASPish coloration and become an authentic Texan."
In other words: he went from being a WASP to being a WASP. (Epstein just can't quite comprehend it.)
Both and Jimmuh are indisputably white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.
They just weren't WASPs.
This is true only in Epstein's limited paradigm. The vast majority of America's most successful (financially and otherwise) achievers are not graduates of the schools that impress Epstein as the most prestigious. They tend to be well motivated and talented graduates of state universities and community colleges. For example: Forbes' lists of the richest Americans reveals this year after year.
You are referring to people like George H. W. Bush?
No thank you.
Nahh. He gets it just fine. He just doesn’t express it well.
Most white southerners are Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, despite the somewhat mythical prominence assigned Scotch-Irish ancestry in recent decades.
But southerners have never been WASPs in the sense of northeast ruling elite. He’s actually referring to a cultural group, assigned ethnicity for purposes of labeling, but with ethnicity not terribly relevant in any other sense.
"Of the two strongest American presidents since 1950 Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan the first didn't go to college at all, and the second went to Eureka College"
And it illustrates my point.
Truman and Reagan are the only great Presidents of the 20th century.
The only other great U.S. Presidents were Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Lincoln.
By Epstein's criteria, none of these great Presidents was a WASP.
As the Information Age has brought more and more truth to light, the average Americans opinion of them has gone from disdain to contempt--and for excellent reasons.
"What our new meritocrats have failed to evinceand what the older WASP generation prided itself onis character and the ability to put the well-being of the nation before their own. Character embodied in honorable action is at the heart of the novels and stories of Louis Auchincloss, America's last unembarrassedly WASP writer. Doing the right thing, especially in the face of temptations to do otherwise, was the WASP test par excellence. Most of our meritocrats, by contrast, seem to be in business for themselves."
We have the ghetto-ocracy right now. We rule according to what is inoffensive to “oppressed” minorities and, as an ethic, believe that if you can get your hands on it (even by lying or stealing), you deserved it.
Our pop culture tells us to flash our bling, live large, have “ho”s and save nothing because tomorrow you might die.
Washington. Jefferson. Madison. Monroe. Et al.
There was a lot more of a desire to please God with how one lived their life.
Now we desire to please ourselves in a secular Sodom.
The WASP ascendancy lasted for about a century, beginning with the defeat of the Southern Confederacy by the North and ending with the cultural wars of the 1960s. A new, and substantially Jewish, elite has replaced the WASP ascendancy, which fell first into liberalism starting in the late 19th Century and then into decadence. The new elite is showing similar evidence of decline, due to the effects of political correctness, moral degeneracy, expanded bureaucracy, and economic decline. The next chapter of American history will be interesting, as a new order will replace the current ascendancy.
The Jews are running this country. See Hollywood for reference.
If you are on welfare, you and your spawn should be sterilized. This includes your parents, your siblings, and your children. If they don’t want to be sterilized, then wonderful, they can support you.
Dude. They were part of the Virginia Dynasty. Nothing northeastern about them. The government was dominated prior to the Civil War by Virginians and other southerners, in much the same way it was dominated from 1860 to WWII by WASPs.
In fact, the Civil War was to some extent a struggle between these two elite groups. The South seceded very largely because it saw that it was losing its grip on power and saw no way it could continue safely in a Union in which it was no longer dominant.
(BTW, I have no intent here to ignite another Civil War debate. I think the above statement is indisputably true. Legitimate disagreement is possible on whether the southern elite was right in this belief, but not, IMO, that they believed it.)
After the War, southerners were almost completely excluded from political/cultural influence, with notable exception of powerful southern senators acquiring clout via seniority.
That's not a conservative opinion. Sanger wanted to rid the country of "undesirables" too. So did Hitler.
At a minimum anyone on welfare should be drug tested.
I knew several true Boston and New York WASPS. They have all passed away. They didn’t have great Wall Street wealth. They were the sons and daughters of Presbyterian or Anglican ministers, university professors, or even farmers.
All I can say is that there was a simple and clear code of behavior, thrift and a universal respect for all, as we are all a unique child of God and free-born American citizens.
California is sure not WASP anymore.
“During the 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles was a bastion of Anglo Protestantism, reflecting the values of Midwestern parishioners who had been carried to the Southland on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Well into the 1970s, Protestant denominational leaders enjoyed comfortable, influential ties with the city is still-strong “downtown business
establishment,” which itself was largely Protestant.
The Immigration Act of 1965, however, created the condition for a radically different religious future for the City of Angels-a future that would anoint Roman Catholicism as the area’s dominant religious group. Today Roman Catholicism is the single largest faith tradition in Los Angeles County, with 294 parishes and 3,631,368 adherents.
Among Christians, 71% are Catholics. Between 1980 and 1997, Roman Catholicism experienced a 36% growth.”
Some of that is due as well to the main stream protestant churches becoming so liberal. I know many WASPs who are now catholic. Fundamentalist churches have also grown for the same reason.
Some of what? California becoming Catholic?
Sorry, I just started on my first cup of coffee and realized that you were indeed saying that conversion to Catholicism was a factor.
I doubt that, since whites have been fleeing Catholicism for many years/decades, the real factor is the importation of Catholics by the 10s of millions, a long term goal of the democrat party and the American left, and their arrival in large numbers, in California.
Mellon and Carnegie were Scottish descent -- WASP-ish in the Presbyterian or Anglican sense, but not quite in the true British sense.
The Roosevelt's and Vanderbilt's were descendants of the Dutch/New Amsterdam mercantile families which preceded what became British/New York mercantilism in 1664. As merchant families associated with the VOC they were already quite well entrenched, Dutch protestants, possibly, but not WASPs per se.
Recall the Pilgrims first stayed in Amsterdam and then Leiden, Holland prior to their journey that landed them in what became Plymouth Colony. There, they also mingled with French Protestant Huguenots some of whom came over with the Pilgrims.
Roosevelt's and Bush's can also trace themselves to the Pilgrim's passage as Dutch and English, respectively. So in this way Bush is still the British WASP, though not necessarily Roosevelt.
Rockefellers on the other hand were actually drawn more from German stock, rather than Dutch, but on that basis one could reasonably say they were at least 1/2 of the Anglo-"Saxon" moniker.
Both of these sections were populated by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants--WASPs--of the same European extraction.
In the 19th century, power and population shifted to the Northeast. Early in the 19th century, New York passed Virginia in population. It remained the most populous state until California passed it in the 20th century.
As you say, the Civil War decided that the Northeastern establishment would become dominant over the Southern establishment, but both were WASP.
Meritocracy... men and women trained in the most prestigious schools...
Not any more - “diversity” has let in many affirmative action students and the meritocracy is now a sham - Obama and Michelle included.
thanks for the very informative post.
How about WASPS. White Anglo-Sexton Protestant Straight.
Theologically, maybe. But socially and culturally you'd have a hard time convincing non-Protestants that Mitt was anything but a WASP.
You might check out E.Digby Baltzell's The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America. That was certainly his view, and some people say he invented the term "WASP."
Baltzell was WASPy and upper class himself (more or less) and a big JFK man. That's the thing about elites: they lean to the liberals. With them (other people's) money tends to be no object.
I think the Mormonism took care of that, Romney was largely seen as what he was, a white Obama, exotic, out of touch, and almost a foreigner, socially and culturally.
To me he looked like many other East Coast moderate Republicans.
The "out of touch" factor was something many people saw in Bush Sr. as well.
I don’t know why you lash out by calling it “your (quite biased) point of view”, it is the damning image that has colored his 20 years in elective politics, a career that while he spent over 50 million dollars of his own money, and hundreds of millions of other people’s money, resulted in a single election win of less than 50%, and a failed, single term in office with no chance of reelection and ending in losing a presidential election against Jimmy Carter’s second term.
Romney was seen as much more exotic and culturally foreign, than war hero and Texas Congressman, President H W Bush.
If you don't see that "exotic and culturally foreign" is a relative term in a country like ours, that's your problem. What strikes you as "foreign" won't strike other people in the same way. Romney was not so different from other WASPy East Coast Republican elected officials.
Romney had upper class "out of touch" troubles, but there are plenty of people like that in the country and that doesn't make them "foreigners." I don't see what trashing his political record has to do with it. Since he did beat out quite a few other contenders last time, though, does that make them out-of-touch "foreigners" as well?
I don’t post against Mormons or Catholics, you sure are going out of your way to make this personal.
Evidently you take your Romney very seriously and want to personally attack an individual who points out something negative about him.
If you can just focus on Romney, then you might see that during his 6 years of running for president, the image that haunted him, was how exotic and Romulan he struck people.
Perhaps we could expect that from a man who is so separated in his social and religious life, after all, Bishop Mitt Romney believes that he will become a God at some point, and he focuses his life on remaining culturally isolated within his religious community.